The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 298,728 complaints about tech-related fraud last year, with reported losses in excess of $1.3 billion, according to a report from the FBI.
Tech support fraud was the fastest growing category, with more than 10,000 incidents reported and victims losing nearly $8 million. Business e-mail compromise, ransomware and extortion were also high on the list. Older computer users were the most vulnerable targets, the FBI said.
The top states for reported dollar amounts lost to internet fraud in 2016 were California, New York and Florida, according to the FBI.
Tech support fraud is a somewhat new addition to the list. The scam often begins when users click on malvertisements designed to trick them into believing they have a virus, and encouraging them to call the number shown on the site for help. Once connected to the fake tech support, the scammers convince users their computers are infected with malware, offering to help repair the damage for a price. Users pay up and their machines are "repaired."
The Federal Trade Commission has been working to shut down such scam operations, but with more automated attacks, it will likely get far worse before it gets better.
Government agencies are working to get a better understanding of what is happening in the tech landscape in terms of cyberattacks. The FBI encouraged internet users to report any incident of Internet fraud to IC3, because the data helps the law enforcement gather important data on Internet crime trends.
Education remains the best method for protecting users from all types of internet fraud. Companies that take the time to train computer users how to identify fraud techniques find the investment usually pays off.